FORT KENT, Maine — Any upper-level nursing student would probably agree that when it comes to juggling classes, laboratory sessions, lectures and homework, time management is essential.
In an effort to help its nursing students make the most of their academic time, the University of Maine at Fort Kent this semester opened a new nursing resource room in The Lodge, a campus residence hall.
“This is really a great asset to the program,” said Julie Seehagen, a junior nursing student from Waterboro. “It’s helped alleviate some congestion in the larger lab across campus, and it’s allowing students who live on campus to have an area to get away for some quiet study time.”
Just more than 200 students are enrolled in UMFK’s nursing program, and Seehagen said the nursing labs in Cyr Hall can get pretty crowded.
At the same time, access is not always easy after hours or on weekends.
The new resource room is actually a suite of three rooms plus a small kitchen in a former four-student residential suite on The Lodge’s ground floor.
Students have 24-hour access to the rooms and available practical nursing equipment, including mannequins, a simulated hospital room, computers, wheelchairs and reference materials.
Seehagen and her roommate, fellow junior nursing student Amanda Pelletier of Caribou, live right next to the resource room and are thrilled with the convenience.
“We can come in anytime and practice our skills,” Seehagen said.
Myrna Ridenour of Montana, who graduates from the program this week, said the center is something she would have liked to see during her time at UMFK.
“This is a great resource,” she said. “If it had been available I certainly would have used it.”
Speaking from experience, Ridenour said that the level of anxiety when nursing students move from classroom work to a hospital setting can be pretty high.
In the center, she pointed out, students can practice nursing procedures on and with each other before they face real patients.
“A lot of nursing is hands-on,” Pelletier said. “You can read until your eyes bleed, but nothing takes the place of hands-on, practical experience.”
For example, Ridenour said students work together to “transfer” each other from a hospital bed to a wheelchair and back.
“When you know what it feels like as a patient, it helps you as a nurse help that patient so he or she is more comfortable and safe,” the senior student said.
“This lab is very convenient and a huge asset for the students,” said Larry Nadeau, UMFK nursing lab resource manager and clinical instructor. “It does not take the place of a traditional lab with an instructor, but it can be valuable in allowing students to help each other to sharpen their skills.”